When a city is bidding to become a FIFA World Cup Host City, it sure helps to have the Mayor's support. Luckily for Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter is a big soccer fan, likely even more so now that his city has a team of its own.
“I think that this game continues to put Philadelphia on a national stage,” Nutter said. “To take you back a little bit, in 2008 Philadelphia had the largest increase in international tourism of any city in the United States of America at 28%. The more activity we see, the more Philadelphia is on an international stage, between now and then. That drives tourism and other business related activity. It’s also more advertising for us, which is virtually priceless.
“Obviously, we want to be one of the cities to host the World Cup.”
But naturally, the United States must be named a World Cup host country before Philadelphia can even have a chance of being named a Host City. While the competition is fierce, no other county boasts the ready-made infrastructure needed to host the most widely viewed sporting event in the world.
“We’ve heard all of the stories and the comments,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said during a recent press conference. “We’ve said from Day 1 that we are bidding for both because the rules allow us to do so. There has been some sentiment that 2018 should go to Europe because it’s been 12 years since they’ve hosted it. We’re fine with that if that’s the way it ends up. But we’re also fine with it being early, given the fact that we don’t need any infrastructure. We don’t need any new stadiums, highways or hotels or any new telecommunication centers. We believe we can do it much quicker than some other competitors.”
USSF President Sunil Gulati presents Mayor Nutter with a U.S Soccer jersey
The U.S. also benefits from the smashing success of the 1994 World Cup, also hosted in the United States. The 1994 World Cup was the highest-attended single sport event in U.S. history, despite the fact that the World Cup expanded its field from 24 teams to 32 teams in 1998. The average per game attendance for the tournament was 69,000, with the total attendance for the tournament equaling 3.6 million. Perhaps not surprisingly, the tournament was also the most profitable World Cup in FIFA’s history.
While Philadelphia soccer fans are hoping to be able to attend 2018 or 2022 World Cup matches in their home city, 2010 has provided plenty of excitement.
“We like to spread out our events, but we’ve put that aside the last year as Philadelphia has hosted the CONCACAF Gold Cup, our biggest convention (the NSCAA Convention, which was paired with the 2010 MLS SuperDraft) and now this game,” Gulati admitted.
Mayor Nutter sports his new Philadelphia Union stadium coat
With Philadelphia Union's first-ever match in just over a month and the USMNT's sendoff game against Turkey on May 29th, the region will have plenty of soccer to be excited about in the coming months and years. And that's music to Mayor Nutter's ears.
"The addition of Philadelphia Union to the local professional sports scene is a shining example of the regionalism that I have spoken about since my time on City Council," said Mayor Nutter at Philadelphia Union's Team Name announcement on May 11th, 2009. "With a world-class stadium set to stand strong in Chester, PA, and Philadelphia proudly emblazoned on the club's jerseys, the world will see the strength and unity of our Greater Philadelphia Region.
“This is not just a game, it’s an international movement."
More photos of Mayor Nutter supporting the game of soccer:
President Tom Veit presents Mayor Nutter with a Union stadium coat
The Mayor looks pleased with his new Union gear
Looking good in your new Union jacket, Mayor Nutter!
The Mayor with his Union coat and U.S. ball
From left to right: Tom Veit, Sunil Gulati, Joe Banner and Mayor Nutter
Mayor Nutter shows off his kicking form on May 11th, 2009
Photo Credits: Tony Webb / City of Philadelphia